Rangers and the Famous ICF: My Life With Scotland's Most-Feared Football Hooligan Gang (5 page)

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I hate Aberdeen fans almost as much as I hate Celtic. To me they are the lowest of the low. They can’t accept that they are no longer number one, that the Sir Alex Ferguson glory days are over and that Rangers became top dogs in Scottish football after Graeme Souness arrived at Ibrox in 1986. Their insane hatred of everything Rangers dates from that time. They just love singing their vile songs about the Ibrox Disaster of 1971, when sixty-six Rangers fans were crushed to death on the stadium steps after an Old Firm game. That is what I mean about the lowest of the low.

For good measure they take great delight in the tackle that nearly ended the career of one of the best players Rangers have produced in the last thirty years: Ian Durrant. The tackle was made by Neil Simpson during an Aberdeen–Rangers game at Pittodrie in 1988 and to me and most Rangers fans it was reckless to say the least. Wee Durranty, a bluenose to his fingertips, was out of competitive football for almost three years, and, when he did manage to make a comeback, was never the same player again. Not that the Sheep gave a fuck. They even made up a little ditty about the incident.

 

Nice one, Simmy,

Nice one son

Nice one Simmy

Let’s have another one.

 

As for their mob, the Aberdeen Soccer Casuals, I have mixed feelings. Yes, they were instrumental in establishing the casual culture in Scotland. Yes, they could turn out huge numbers of lads. Yes, they fronted up at Wembley and Hampden when England were around. In fact probably my first experience of a real mob came at a Rangers–Aberdeen game at Ibrox in September 1985. Two hundred ASC came down and, although we were very much a fledgling firm and not that well organised, the Aberdeen lads
got a hard time from our scarfers, who took exception to the large alien presence in their midst. The scarfers did their best to get at them but Aberdeen were penned in by police horses and the best our guys could do was to pelt them with missiles. Aged thirteen I was impressed not only by the numbers of boys Aberdeen put on the street but also by the bottle they showed.

All of that would have earned them my respect but too often they blotted their copybook either by attacking non-combatants or with other cowardly acts. Where Rangers were concerned they didn’t care who got hurt, whether it was ordinary scarfers or even young kids. My other problem is that under the umbrella of a police escort they would mouth off but when it came to meeting us away from the prying eyes of the Old Bill they would, as often as not, fail to front up.

A good example of how they were out of order came one afternoon early in season 1998/99, when I travelled on a normal supporters bus up to Pittodrie. There were five ICF on the bus, but that was it. The rest of the rest of the seats were occupied by scarfers and no one was looking for FV. After we had got parked up in Aberdeen about fifteen of us walked into the city centre, where we split into two groups. I went with the other ICF boys to get something to eat. On the way we passed a pub that was heaving with ASC. About fifty of them steamed out and before you could say ‘sheep-shagging bastards’ punches were being thrown. We couldn’t hold out for long against the sheer weight of numbers and we had to back off. I got on my toes and ran into a chip shop, which was full of Rangers fans, some as young as six. I stood my ground in the doorway and took on four of the cunts. As their boys could only get to me one at a time I managed to hold my own and fought them off, using my fists and a mobile phone as weapons.

‘Hello, Sandy. How’s it going?’ the voice at the other end of the phone said.

I couldn’t believe it. My fucking phone had rung while I was fighting for my life in the middle of enemy territory. Maybe I should have let it go to voicemail but, ‘you never know,’ I thought, ‘it might be an important call’.

‘Can I call you back? I’m busy right now,’ I replied as the blows continued to rain down.

It was a moment of light relief but what happened next was no joke. More ASC arrived on the scene and without further ado they tried to kick in the shop’s big plate-glass window. The kids inside the chippy were
terrified and started to cry. Not that the ASC cared. Their only priority was to inflict harm on Rangers fans and if a few kids got in the way so what. It wasn’t an isolated incident. I have had reports of thirty ASC attacking lone Rangers scarfers and giving them a hell of a doing. It’s out of order and well they know it.

It wasn’t long before we were able to compete with them. On the day of the Skol Cup final in 1987/88 there was a massive battle on Aitkenhead Road, where the big ASDA is today. There were a hundred and fifty of them, while about seventy of us had splintered off from the main mob. I have to admit it was scary. They were on the front foot, helped by their superior numbers and if it wasn’t for a large police presence we would have got a right kicking. One thing will always stick in my mind from that day: Harky steaming right into the cunts on a real suicide mission; the guy is pure class, one of the greatest hooligans of them all.

Being outnumbered by the ASC, even in Glasgow, is a recurring theme. There is a great video on You Tube of us getting it on with them in George Square one holiday weekend in 2001. Rangers didn’t have a game that day but about twenty of us were drinking in the Merchant City. We knew they were playing in the west and that they would be in the city later, mobbed up. We got on the phone to them and through the various conversations and a bit of scouting we discovered they had about eighty boys. Despite our best efforts to entice them they wouldn’t front up at our pub, which was to become par for the course.

It was time to pay them a visit.

That wasn’t the most sensible decision we had ever made. The pub we were in was full of football-intelligence officers and the whole area is closely monitored by closed-circuit television. It was also a holiday weekend, which meant we could be lying in a police cell from the Saturday until the Tuesday, a fucking horrible thought. But we had never knowingly passed up an opportunity for FV and we weren’t going to start now. Followed by the FI cops we marched round to the Counting House, a big Wotherspoon’s pub in George Square. There was a police van on our route and we expected to be stopped in our tracks. However, much to our surprise we were allowed to keep going and as we walked across the Square, Aberdeen came flooding out of the pub.

Given the relative numbers it was a suicide mission but as the chants of ‘ICF, ICF’ grew louder and more insistent we gathered speed and were soon engaged in some brief fisticuffs. There were fights all over George Square, including a particularly bloody encounter next to a tourist bus
full of foreign visitors. They must have thought it was some kind of street theatre put on for their benefit. Maybe we should have passed round the hat after the ‘performance’. The fight itself didn’t last long because within a minute we heard the dreaded wail of police sirens. Before we disengaged there was still time for the piece de resistance, a peach of a punch from one of our boys, Wee Moose from Townhead, who, despite his lack of inches, knocked an opponent right on his arse. It was scant consolation because despite the disparity in numbers we knew Aberdeen would claim it as a victory.

We had another reason to worry. The large police presence, backed up by images from the television cameras, meant that one day soon we would face the dreaded knock on the front door in the early hours of the morning. And so it proved: I got my visit, was nicked and then charged. I got a result, though. The procurator fiscal took a decision that six ICF should be prosecuted and he didn’t give a fuck who they were. So Davie Carrick put our names in a hat and the six unlucky losers got drawn out. I wasn’t one of them.

*

 

Aberdeen were also at the heart of one of the two or three most memorable days I have ever experienced as a casual. It resulted in me being charged for violent offences in not one but two cities, all of them carried out on the same day. Rangers played Arbroath in the Scottish Cup on 25 January 2003 and before the game we stopped off in Dundee and had it big time with Hibs, who also happened to be in the city.
6
After that fight we headed back to Glasgow and forty of us ended up in the Auctioneers pub, which is just off George Square.

It was a sociable night. We had a few pints, then a few lines to keep us going, then a few more pints, then a few more lines, and so it went. Two Clyde casuals came in and joined us and they too sneaked off to the toilets to do a bit of snorting. We heard the ASC were in town, on their way back to furry-boots city after a game with Queen of the South. After a few hours the boys started to drift off home in dribs and drabs and I was about to call it a day myself when two of them, Ecky and wee Geo Mac, came back into the Auctioneers.

‘We were attacked by a mob of ASC,’ they told us.

It was the proverbial red rag to a bull and in the state we were in there was only going to be one outcome. We grabbed our coats and bounded out of the door.

As soon as we hit the street we saw them. They could tell by the looks on our faces that we were not best pleased by what had happened to our boys and when we charged they turned tail and ran like fuck. We pursued them right round George Square to the Counting House. They now had two choices: stand and fight or get themselves arrested, because the cops were less than a hundred yards away, outside Queen Street station. Some, clearly unnerved by our anger, went straight to the police lines; some to their credit stuck around and got wired in. I was in a right scrap, as were most of the boys, when, suddenly, the lights went out.

I remember being hit hard on the head, staggering and slumping to the ground. It didn’t seem that hard a blow and I thought my grogginess was down to the beer and cocaine kicking in. I was also bleeding profusely from a head wound. By this time the cops were on the scene in big numbers and it was time to leave. Big Boris helped me to my feet.

‘I’m fucking okay, Boris,’ I assured him, but when he let me go I slumped to the pavement again, my brain scrambled. Even in such a befuddled state I knew we had to get away or we would be lifted and as the police approached we ran back in the direction of the Auctioneers. Aberdeen saw it a chance to run us and they chased us all the way back to the pub. Of course they hadn’t run us; we were trying to avoid arrest, not run from them, but that is typical of the way they think.

Back in the Auctioneers I knew we might be in trouble. It was a dark night but there was still a chance we would be seen on the CCTV images and arrested at a later date. Sure enough, the next week I got the dreaded chap on the door. I was pissed off for another reason; I had bought a new house in Robroyston and had invited my niece and nephew to stay with me for the night. The last thing you want when you have two young kids sleeping over is for a big, daft polisman to march in with his size tens. Because they were using the bedrooms I slept on the couch and woke at half six with an impending feeling of doom. My sixth sense proved right when, half an hour later, I heard the Old Bill rattling my letter box. I sprang up and went to the back door, to be greeted by two cops waving and smiling.

‘Do you know what this is about?’ one of them asked.

‘No, I haven’t a clue,’ I lied.

I was bundled into the back of an unmarked police car and driven to Helen Street police station in Govan, which is near to Ibrox. I was taken to the charge desk to hear the counts against me. By now I realised I faced the possibility of being held in a grotty police cell for several days and my mood had darkened considerably. Glasgow’s top football intelligence cop, Kenny Scott, was in the room and I thought he was trying to stare right through me in an attempt to unnerve me. The words ‘What the fuck are you looking at?’ were on the tip of my tongue, but I resisted the temptation.

Later that day I was hauled out of my cell for the trip to Glasgow Sheriff Court. Scott was there to wave me off.

‘How do think you’ll get on today?’ he asked.

‘I’ll get bail, no problem Kenny,’ I blustered, trying to look more confident than I felt.

‘Aye, but that wasn’t the only place we got you on camera last week,’ he replied, in what to me was a really smug tone of voice.

He was right and didn’t I know it. Being caught on film for the rucks in Dundee and Glasgow meant I was looking at a seven-day lie down after which I would have to apply for bail again. If that failed I could be remanded for up to 110 days pending a trial. Not a happy prospect. But I got a result; bail for Glasgow and then eventually for Dundee as well. Now all I had to worry about was my trials.

The trial for the Aberdeen incident took place a year later in Glasgow Sheriff Court. The atmosphere in court was tense and dozens of extra police had been drafted in to prevent it kicking off with Aberdeen, which to me was a total overreaction. My lawyer told me there was a deal on the table for a few boys from the ICF and the ASC to plead guilty and for the rest of us to walk free. I was sure the procurator fiscal would insist on me being one of the ones to cop the guilty plea but to my surprise – and delight – he didn’t have me on his list. I had been caught on a George Square closed-circuit camera but it was some distance away and I had been wearing dark clothes, which made it hard positively to identify me. Six of our boys weren’t so lucky: three had been arrested at the scene; the faces of the other three were clearly seen on the video and when that was taken in conjunction with the police evidence they had no alternative but to hold their hands up. It was no laughing matter. They got up to twenty months for assault and breach of the peace, as did the three ASC who had pleaded guilty.

I later found out that the cops were raging that I had my charges dropped. In fact I heard there was an unholy row between football intelligence and the procurator fiscal about me being let off the hook. The problem for Strathclyde’s finest however was that due to the shortcomings of the video evidence there was no way I could be convicted. That I am sure stuck in their craw and made them even more determined to get me on a charge that would stick.

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